You have so many good content ideas.
But when it comes to actually *creating* content, you’re stuck staring at a blank page.
It happens to the best of us, even where we’re natural writers and/or content creators!
Except you need to get your message out to your audience, and content is one of the best ways to do that.
Today I want to share a (not so) secret to producing more, better content, which you probably already know but left somewhere behind in your high school or university days…
Use an outline!
That’s right. A simple bullet point skeleton of what you want to cover, the exact points you want to hit, and the supporting information you’ll include.
What Happens When You Don’t Use an Outline, You Ask?
Unfortunately I’ve learned the hard way the downsides of writing without an outline.
The realization came during my book writing process (which I’ll tell you about another time), and it’s pretty bleak:
- Lost time and focus
- Endless re-reading
- Forgetting to include key ideas
- Dancing around the point you’re trying to make
- Going off on tangents
- Being too wordy or technical
- Having to write it all over again!
Here’s how I leverage the power of an outline to bang out 2-3 pieces of written content per day (and how you can, too!):
1. First, Get Super Clear About the Topic
BEFORE writing your outline, make sure each content piece has one clear focus/purpose.
Otherwise you’ll go off on tangents or cover too much in one.
2. Write a Title to Use as Your North Star
Some might say to write the title at the end, but I find it helps to write it first.
You can change it, but it’s a good way to focus your writing.
3. Build the Outline
I used to just start writing the intro then continue on…don’t! It’s a recipe for the endless cycle of re-reading and editing (a bad habit I’m trying to kick myself!).
Instead, as fast as you can in casual words, write the bullet points of what you want to cover in order.
This looks like:
- Intro (the why, what, pain point you’re solving)
- Body (main points you’ll hit – use subheadings for both reader and yourself to organize)
- Conclusion (short summary with key takeaways)
4. Now, Start Writing!
With the outline set, only THEN start writing.
You’re filling in gaps and even copying and pasting the more casual prose from your outline.
For technical people, this helps limit the compulsion for jargon, flowery language, and over-explaining.
5. Lastly, Edit Just Once or Twice Max (See Caveat Below)
I used to think “done is better than perfect” was a load of crap. (Recovering perfectionist over here!)
Until I realized the hours and stress saved. I’ve since studied successful people and they do not let perfectionism be a barrier. So I’ve learned to let small errors go.
Including in my writing (probably even in this very blog post!).
So of course edit your work. Be accurate, reference properly, you know the deal. But resist the urge to edit and edit and edit some more.
Edit once or twice max, then publish. Unless it’s print, you can correct errors later.
What does your writing process look like? Do you use an outline or just wing it?
I hope this tidbit is helpful! For more marketing tips like this, follow me on Instagram @freshleafmarketing where I share marketing and business wisdom.